Friday, 16 May 2014

Stumbling across Mephisto's grave

I remember it quite clearly. I'd finished writing my first book and just had a strange experience which prompted an idea for my second. However, I needed something more - a direction for the story. I took a walk to clear my head.

Over the past 20 years plus, I must have passed through my local park countless times on my way to the library or using it as a pleasanter route to and from my home. That morning, I walked by something I'd never noticed before and it surprised me.

It was a small gravestone and someone had weeded around it and attempted to clean it up. I paused, stooped down to look, wondering what on earth a gravestone was doing in a park? The name 'Mephisto' gave me something to contemplate. He was as he was born 1891 and died 1893.

Mephisto's grave

Back home I did some research. Hare Hill House, a part of Hare Hill park, was once owned by the Newall family in the 1800's. Mephisto was a pet monkey and legend has it that the monkey escaped, climbed up to the roof and then fell to an untimely death. It was such an odd story and odd little grave that it stayed with me and it was later that evening that I decided I too would have a character whose devious actions would lead to a fatal fall from a roof.

And so, in 'Star Keeper', my second book, there is a character named Mephisto who is not all that he seems but he is not the one to fall. Now, every time I walk along the park path, I pause briefly to glance at the grave. I wonder how many other things I have walked by each day and not seen?  I wonder how many other ideas for story direction are out there?
Hare Hill House, where Mephisto fell from its roof